CHICAGO (AP) — Candace Parker returned home to bring Chicago a championship. She did just that leading the Sky to the franchise’s first title.
Allie Quigley scored 26 points and Parker added 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists and Chicago beat the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 on Sunday in Game 4.
“We were down nine, down 11 and we stayed with it,” Parker said. “So proud of this group. Sloot doing what she does all year. Allie its amazing.”
Courtney Vandersloot added 10 points and 15 assists for the Sky, who won the series 3-1, rallying from a 72-65 deficit with 4:42 left. Chicago scored the next nine points to take a two-point lead on Stefanie Dolson’s layup. She then added another basket to make it 76-72 with 45.8 seconds left.
Diana Taurasi was fouled on the next possession shooting a 3-pointer and made the first two free throws, but missed the third.
Vandersloot then scored in the lane to seal the victory setting off the celebration. As the final buzzer sounded, Parker sprinted to the corner of the court and hugged her family with tears in her eyes.
“Their defense went to another level trapping BG,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. “We got some good looks, layups. we missed them and they made them. Allie really changed the momentum of the game there.”
Quigley, who also hails from Illinois, got the decisive run started and Parker tied the game with a 3-pointer before Dolson’s baskets.
It was a full-circle moment for Parker, who triumphantly returned home to Chicago this season after spending 13 years with Los Angeles. She has been continually called the Sky’s missing piece throughout the playoffs, a label she proved accurate many times during Chicago’s stunning run, winning the title as a six-seed.
“It feels amazing. My high school coach is here,” Parker said. “I know Pat’s (Summitt) watching. Got the whole city here. We got the whole city here. We are champions for life now.”
Brittney Griner was a focal point of Phoenix’s offense early on. The seven-time All-Star finished the game with 28 points, 18 of which came in the first half. Griner and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith helped lead a 9-0 run to finish the second quarter and give Phoenix a 44-37 edge at halftime.
Parker initially had trouble getting into a rhythm offensively, going one for six from the floor with just four points by the end of the first half.
Kahleah Copper, who had been a force in the first four games of the finals, earned MVP honors of the championship.
Emotions were high for both teams right from the start, as Taurasi and Sky forward Kahleah Copper were each hit with technical fouls within a 50-second span in the first quarter.
The Sky drew a sell-out crowd despite the Chicago Bears hosting the rival Green Bay Packers just down the street at Soldier Field. Chance the Rapper was once again in attendance to support his hometown team.
Chicago coach James Wade became the third Black male coach to win a WNBA championship, joining Michael Cooper who did it with the Los Angeles Sparks and Corey Gaines, who did it with Phoenix. ... Phoenix had been 4-0 in the WNBA Finals after losses until Sunday’s defeat.